Global leader in safe, high performance waterproofing, cleaning and conditioning for outdoor gear


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Keeping your shoes clean, it’s easier than you might think!

Now, I’m not one to normally clean my shoes with regularity, however, not too long ago I acquired a pair of super cool 5.10 approach/ parkour shoes. I’m no parkour aficionado, but I do get out to climb a bit, so I was psyched for some new kicks. The downside was that these shoes were white, meaning they would stay white for about 5 minutes after I took them out of the box. Sure enough, after an outing or two, they were downright filthy.

My awesome 5.10 kicks, while a stylish white, turned a dirty grey brown.

In order to bring my shoes back to a state that would at least be appropriate for frequenting a dive bar, I turned to my Nikwax arsenal to get them clean. In order to prepare for the overhaul, I removed the laces and insoles in order to get better access to all parts of the shoe. Good thing too, as you can see the tongue was particularly filthy.

removing the laces makes the shoes easier to clean

Remove the laces and insoles.

The next step was to get the shoes good and wet- like wetting your hands before soaping them up.

wetting your shoes help the cleaning gel to work properly

Get those shoes good and wet!

Then, I grabbed Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel and went to town.

Great for all types of footwear!

Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel to the rescue!

I scrubbed like a mad person.

Footwear Cleaning Gel gets sudsy!

Scrub your shoes!

Then, I rinsed off the Cleaning Gel suds. I was amazed at how much cleaner they were!

Rinse all the soap off

Sparkly!

Now, these shoes will never be waterproof. As you can see, they have holes all over them and there is no Gore-Tex membrane either. However, in order to help prevent further dirt and mud from corrupting my shoes, I thought, “it couldn’t hurt”! So I grabbed a bottle of Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Proof Spray-On (as the shoes are of the textured leather persuasion). I sprayed the shoes thoroughly and evenly.

Nubuck and Suede Proof waterproofing

I used the spray-on version.

Then, I set the shoes on a protected surface so they could dry. I also put some paper towel (newspaper works too) inside them in order to help them dry faster and soak up any water that got inside. You never want to accelerate the drying of your shoes with heat, as it can damage the uppers, as well as compromise any glued parts.

Dry your shoes with paper towel or newspaper in them

Drying time!

After a couple minutes I checked on them and removed any excess (pooling, etc.).

Make sure to remove all excess product

Dab to remove excess.

I let them dry over night. the next day gave them a little spritz to check the water repellency- They look great!

waterproof suede

Look at that beading action!

Now to go get them filthy again!

Climbing a dog and a beer

Ready for action!


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Nikwax Wins Prestigious Queen’s Award for Eco-Friendly Product Innovation and Sustainable Practices.

The Queen's Awards for Enterprise: International Trade 2010 Nikwax, global leader in high performance, environmentally-friendly waterproofing solutions, has become the first outdoor brand ever to receive a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development. The award is the most prestigious British environmental award and is testament to Nikwax’s clean waterproofing technology and its commitment to promote sustainable practice.

As a winner of The Queen’s Award, Nikwax will be invited to attend a special reception at Buckingham Palace in London, and will be proud to use The Queen’s Award emblem on Nikwax packaging. The awards are made annually by HM The Queen, and are only given for the highest levels of excellence demonstrated in each category.

Nikwax also has been voted number one by users in four recent outdoor industry awards, which recognized Nikwax products as the leader in both ease of use and durable performance. Breathable jackets can be waterproofed in the washing machine at home, using Nikwax TX.Direct in place of normal detergent. There is no need for heat activation – unlike the many treatments on the market that contain harmful perfluorinated compounds (PFCs).

Nikwax has been keeping people dry and comfortable in the outdoors since 1977, when current Managing Director, Nick Brown, founded the company. Led by Brown’s vision to protect our beautiful outdoor surroundings, the company has always identified environmental and social responsibility as a priority. Nick Brown-crop “We must stop to think about the fuel we burn to arrive at our walk, the energy and materials consumed in the clothing that protect us from the elements, and even the wear on the pathway,” said Brown. “We may be destroying the very hills that we care so much about. Restoring the waterproofing of your outdoor clothing is in itself a sustainable act; using far less energy and money than replacing equipment; and for us, it all counts.”

Nikwax’s stringent restricted chemicals policy sets it apart from other aftercare manufacturers. Nikwax prohibits the use of flammable and aromatic solvents and potentially persistent materials like PFCs – chemicals widely used by other brandsin the waterproofing of outdoor clothing. In contrast to the industry norm, Nikwax is the only established aftercare business in the world never to have used PFCs, knowing that they persist in the environment and can bioaccumulate, building up at higher ends of the food chain.

As tighter legislation kicks in and environmental awareness heightens, Nikwax is fast becoming the go-to brand for environmentally safe waterproofing technology for leading outdoor gear manufacturers worldwide. The latest Nikwax innovation – Nikwax Hydrophobic Down – is about to hit retail stores in Rab’s new range of down-filled sleeping bags and jackets.

Delivering sustainable processes is a fundamental part of Nikwax’s day-to-day rhythm. The company harvests rainwater for use in the manufacture of core products, and has invested in a solar generation system that provides virtually the entire electrical usage of its main office unit, and is carbon balanced though the World Land Trust. Nikwax’s waste reduction initiative has already seen the company’s proportion of waste recycled go from 16-percent in 2006 to 71=percent in 2013. With an 80-percent target for 2014, the company aims to become waste and landfill free in five years. But it doesn’t stop there.

“Taking the ethical route rather than the easy-money road is a difficult decision for some, but minimizing our environmental impact was always the way for me,” said Brown. “I feel immense pride when I see our product on the retail shelves – it’s a win for the customer and conservation. The Queen’s Award is a great endorsement that says, yes, you’re doing alright, keep going.” Nick Brown with Nikwax 2


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Why You Should Pay Attention to Chemistry on this Earth Day

It's up to all of us to do our part to take care of the earth. Photo: NASA

It’s up to all of us to do our part to take care of the earth. Photo: NASA

Chemistry is hard. That’s why most American students put it off until the end of their K-12 years. That’s why university professors allow cheat sheets. That’s why Nikwax employs a gaggle of white lab-coated PhDs on our research and development team.

Those scientists have dedicated more than 30 years to developing Nikwax formulas that produce effective and non-harmful chemical reactions for waterproofing and cleaning.

By “non-harmful,” we mean intentionally avoiding any chemical content or reaction that may be noxious to humans or the environment.

Nikwax is clear on our stance: we believe fluorocarbons have a deleterious effect on humans and the environment, so we don’t use them in any of our products. We have pages and pages of scientific resources on our website to support our belief.

External studies support our stance. Specifically, a 2012 independent scientific study that was commissioned by Greenpeace found perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), in every piece of name brand rain gear they tested.

The apparel industry uses PFCs for coating and finishing outdoor garments or sporting goods, or for the production of breathable membrane. The report calls these PFCs, which do not occur in nature, “environmentally damaging toxins.” What’s more, the report calls for more stringent regulation of all PFCs.

Conclusions from the 2012 study include the following:

  • There is an urgent need to ban PFCs from outdoor wear production.
  • The outdoor clothing industry must continue to develop safer alternatives [to PFCs] and use them in processing their products.
  • PFCs and other chemicals reach drinking water, food and ultimately human blood and breast milk from such various sources as manufacturing and household wastewater, dust and the disposal of textiles.
  • The outdoor clothing industry can go without using PFC and nevertheless manufacture items that meet most customers’ demands for functionality.

That last one really spoke to us. After all, at Nikwax, we’ve been saying that since our inception. We know it is possible to keep our clients dry and warm without dousing their outerwear with toxic chemicals.

Nikwax is 100% fluorocarbon-free, and we will always oppose the inclusion of fluorocarbons in water repellency formulations.

When it comes to chemistry, it’s okay to be confused by the scientific specifics. We don’t expect everyone to understand the chemical makeup of fluorocarbons and their varied derivatives. You may or may not understand the distinctions between the C8 and the C6 carbon chains.

We get it. But we fervently believe that as a product manufacturer we can’t pass the buck. It’s our responsibility to ask the hard questions and to take a stance when the answers show ever so clearly that we should.

That can be the difference between clean water and polluted water. Or between a sick family and a healthy one.

We leave you, on this celebration of Earth Day, with a quote from a chemistry professor, on the tumblr site Chemagical:

“In the sciences, all of these ideas were developed over decades. If this stuff were common sense, we would have had all of this stuff figured out before the 1800’s. These concepts can be difficult, and it’s a hell of a lot better to ask a question and sort out your (and possibly others’) confusion than to wallow in ignorance.”

Here’s to taking charge of our own health, and taking responsibility for the sustainability of our passions and the well being of the environments we love.

Happy Earth Day!


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Nikwax on the Road from Cape Town to Paris with GlobeRiders

Helgeonbike

Nikwax ambassador, Helge Pedersen, is on yet another life list adventure. He’s currently motorcycle touring from Cape Town, South Africa, to Paris, France. Along for the 25,000-kilometer ride are three other riders, a supporting vehicle and several of GlobeRiders technical staff.

La Paz photo shoot and pelicansTo those who know Nikwax from the human-powered, outdoor adventure realm, our motorcycle contingent often comes as a surprise. We have a strong relationship with the motorcycling community; our cleaners and waterproofers are often key parts of their safety kit. Adventure riders wear durable fabric outerwear; apparel that can take a beating, keep riders warm and dry, and shed moisture in torrential downpours. That’s right—it’s not that different from your backcountry skiing kit.

Imagine heading out to play in the heat, the rain, the mud and the dust. Now imagine doing it at 70 mph. Your gear takes a beating.

In order for your gear to bear the burden as opposed to your skin, taking precautionary care of motorcycle outerwear is critical.  If not properly cleaned, dust and dirt can damage the fibers of technical outerwear. Sweat, dust and dirt can also mask the durable water repellent finish, causing garments to attract water rather than repel it.  We recommend cleaning with Tech Wash and using TX.Direct to add water-repellency (spray-on or wash-in, depending on the manufacturers washing instructions).

Currently the Globeriders team is nearing Kirundo, Burundi. The weather there may be warm, but there are rain showers in the forecast for the next week. We hope Helge and crew are staying as dry as possible on the road!

If you’d like to live vicariously through Helge, or if this GlobeRiders’ African odyssey spurs your own trip planning into high gear, follow their adventure on the GlobeRiders Live!Journal web page.


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The Nikwax Spring Break Checklist

2palmsIt’s that time of year again: spring break! After drifting drearily through the murky winter months, it’s finally time to get out and go somewhere exciting. You know you want spring adventure, but where to go? Head to the mountains for some spring snow? Catch surf and sun in some tropical country? Wherever it is that you decide to go, we’ve got your gear covered. Here’s our handy checklist to help you prep for your trip:

 Mountain adventures:

  • Re-waterproof your ski skins. You won’t know your skins need this until they fail. Hit ‘em up proactively.
  • Substitute your big, insulated ski jacket with a shell and a light insulated layer for layering versatility. Wash both in Tech Wash to get ahead of the game.
  •  Consider wool for your base layers in the volatile spring weather. Wool is an effective thermo-regulator, keeping you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold. Plus, since warmer springtime temps mean more sweat, wool is naturally anti-bacterial and won’t stink as much as synthetics. Bonus: Nikwax has a special Wool Wash that will preserve all of these awesome qualities.

 Tropical adventures:

  • Pack enough sunscreen to cover every inch of your lilywhite body. While you’re at it, find your sunglasses and a sun hat. Your eyes and head need as much protection from the sun as the rest of your body.
  •  Go get yourself an ENO Hammock. These super packable little hammocks hang very nicely between two palm trees.
  • Bring a tube of Nikwax BaseWash Travel Gel. It’s packaged to be TSA compliant, and it will come in handy to keep swimsuits, swim trunks, and your other travel clothes from smelling sour. Bonus: no washing machine needed! With the travel gel, you can do your wash in the sink.

General camping and biking adventures:

  • Set up your tent BEFORE you go. Did you lose some stakes? Snap a tent pole? Pack the rainfly when it was wet? Figure it out before you’re racing against nighttime and an incoming storm. While you have that tent up, consider spraying it with Tent & Gear SolarProof. We know you aren’t praying for rain on your vacay, but it never hurts to be prepared for it.
  • Air out your sleeping bags. Though it’s recommended that you store down bags by hanging them up in the open air, who has that kind of space? Pull them out and shake lightly to loft the down. If needed, wash them with Down Wash and Down Proof. The combo will add loft and water repellency, and leave your bag smelling sweet after a winter of exile.
  • If cycling is on the agenda, it’s time for a tune-up. If you rely on professionals for regular maintenance, hit them up before the spring break rush.
  •  They call it “mud season” for a reason. Even if you’ll be exploring a relatively dry area, the shaded areas will likely still have some snow or mud. Waterproof your shoes and boots now, so spring break happy hour can legitimately live up to its name.

Like the wise Helen Keller once quoted, “Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” Now get out there and have some fun, you crazy kids!


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Nikwax Guide to Giving Gifts that Keep on Giving

Christmaspresents

In terms of gift-giving, what is important this holiday season is giving your beloved family something they’ll love and that will last. The best gifts have a personal, perhaps even hidden, meaning that take the art of giving to inspired levels. And we’ve got a few thoughtful gift ideas that will leave those on your list feeling merry and bright! 

For: Your mom who is always cold

Gift: Merino wool sweater

Stocking stuffer accompaniment for longevity: Nikwax Wool Wash

Brownie Points: 10 of 10

Wool hasn’t experienced this level of popularity since the Shackleton era. It’s not the cycles of fashion. It’s because wool is nature’s star performer and top of the line Merino wool apparel companies are sticklers for quality. The soft hand, the sleek silhouette and the incomparable warmth will earn you an extra slice of pie, if not a larger slice of the inheritance.

For: Your dad who complains about the thermostat being too high

Gift: A lightweight, stretch fleece

Stocking stuffer accompaniment for longevity: Nikwax Polar Proof

Brownie Points: 8 of 10 from Dad and 10 of 10 from Mom

Let’s face it. As a gross generalization, dads don’t get overly excited about clothes. Just explain that this comfy piece of Americana will go directly from his morning jog, to watching football on the couch, to working on his pet project in the backyard. One-stop dressing=brilliant! Bonus: Mom’s Merino wool get-up is bound to be warmer than Dad’s lightweight fleece, thereby solving the age-old argument of where to keep the indoor temperature. You’ve saved Christmas and a marriage. Well done, you!

For: Your recent college graduate sister who is moving to a resort town for “just one year” while she finds herself

Gift: A down puffy jacket

Stocking stuffer accompaniment: Nikwax Down Wash and Down Proof

Brownie Points: 10 of 10… eventually

She doesn’t know this yet, but no one escapes the siren song of a resort town in “just one year.” She also doesn’t realize that her rent and heating bills will be exorbitant, even after splitting them evenly among her five roommates. Nor has it settled in that her down jacket will be her go-to layer every day this winter. It may take her some time to accept these realities, but she’ll thank you eventually.

For: The annoying uncle who snorts with laughter over the humiliating stories of you as an awkward pre-teen

Gift: Nikwax Rug Proof

Stocking stuffer accompaniment: Nothing! He’s lucky you kept him on your list in the first place.

Brownie Points: Depends how earnestly you can deliver the present

You’ll say it’s for protecting the horse blankets at the thoroughbred stables he bought for your bratty, spoiled cousin. But we all know it’s for that rat-tastic toupee he sports with no sense of irony or dignity.

Editor’s Note: Nikwax neither recommends nor condones use of Rug Proof as a toupee cleaner. 


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Soft Shell 101

softshell_blog1

In the late 1990’s, soft shell (also spelled “softshell”) outerwear hit the marketplace with a bang. Almost overnight, the stretchy fabric became the telltale mark of “serious” outdoorspeople. Soft shells continue to excel as a go-to piece for outdoor play. Today we present: everything you’ve always wanted to know about soft shell fabrics…

1. What exactly is a “soft shell” anyway?

Any synthetic outerwear with stretch, moderate water- and wind-resistance, and high breathability can be considered a soft shell. As fabric technology evolves, the line between hard shell and soft shell gets murkier. Today, there are hard shells that feel a bit like traditional soft shells with high breathability and stretch. There are also membrane soft shells, which will feel like a hard shell with a bit more stretch.

Recognizable ingredient brand names: Polartec, Shoeller and Gore-Tex Soft Shell, plus many branded options from manufacturers.

2. What are the pros and cons soft shells?

  • Pros
    • Breathability. Soft shells provide plenty of protection from (most of) the elements with greater breathability than hard shells. Excellent for aerobic activities like running and ski touring.
    • Stretch. When you need to have greater freedom of movement, such as with climbing or Nordic skiing, added stretch is a huge bonus.
    • Warmth. Soft shells are not sold as insulators, per se, but in moderate temperatures one soft shell can do the job of a hard shell and a fleece combo.
  • Cons
    • Resistance. Soft shells can be slightly less wind and water resistant than hard shells.
    • Weight. If you require super light gear for your latest epic, soft shells generally aren’t as light as hard shells.

3. Do soft shells require special care?

Nothing beyond proper cleaning and occasional waterproofing! The vast majority of soft shells can and should be washed in the home washing machine (always double check the label). Wash with Nikwax Tech Wash – alone or with other gear for which Tech Wash is appropriate. As needed, do a secondary wash with Nikwax SoftShell Proof to revive your soft shell’s water-resistance back to original levels.

4. Do I need soft shell gear?

If you can answer yes to either of the following questions it may be time to add soft shell gear to your performance wardrobe.

  • Do I participate in sports where I’m likely to sweat a lot?
  • When I’m outside, is it usually snowy or clear, as opposed to rainy or sleety?

Here’s to fun, warm, safe and dry outdoor play!